Ducks lose top spot despite battling to draw at rivals Marlow

Mike Durose is tackled as he makes a break. Picture by Mark Bannister
Mike Durose is tackled as he makes a break. Picture by Mark Bannister

Aylesbury lost their spot at the top of the Southern Counties North after being held to a 12-12 draw at Bucks rivals Marlow at the weekend.

This was a clash between the top two and it was second-placed Marlow who started well, leading 9-0 at one stage, but a try either side of half-time saw the Ducks fight back.

But the game was marred by a serious injury to a Marlow player which caused a lengthy delay on 28 minutes.

Ducks head coach Dave Larham said afterwards: “The result was probably a fair reflection of the game; especially considering the one-hour delay following a serious injury to a Marlow player.

“Our undoing was our lack of discipline at the breakdown in our own 22.

“Despite outscoring the opposition by two tries to nil, we allowed them back into the game due to our handling errors and high penalty count.

“We will have to work hard to eradicate these problems before we welcome league leaders Reading Abbey RFC to Ostlers Field this Saturday.”

The weather forecast had been for heavy rain throughout the afternoon and the prediction proved to be spot on as the game kicked off in the extremely wet conditions.

The first half was a scrappy affair with little to choose between the two sides and with 12 minutes until half-time, Aylesbury were making a strong attack in the Marlow half when there was a nasty clash of heads between an Ay’s and a Marlow player.

As the Marlow player lay concussed on the ground, the medical teams from both sides worked together to immobilise his neck as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.

With the rain still falling, both teams returned to their changing rooms to wait until the injured player could be moved. The game was eventually able to resume 45 minutes later under the floodlights.

Things did not start well for Aylesbury upon the resumption as they found themselves 9-0 down after conceding three penalties within kicking range of their posts.

But Aylesbury’s dominance in the forwards came to fruition when they drove over the Marlow line and second row Mike Callis touched down and get Ay’s back into the game, though James Woodfall was off target with his touchline conversion and Aylesbury remained 9-5 behind.

Minutes later the Marlow kicker was once again given the opportunity to show off his skill with the boot as Aylesbury conceded another penalty and now trailed 12-5.

As the game moved into the final quarter, it was Aylesbury’s forward power that once again proved decisive as another driving maul saw Matt Birch claim a second try.

This time Woodfall judged his touchline conversion attempt perfectly to send the ball between the uprights and level the score at 12-12.

With the clock ticking down, the Aylesbury pack drove over the Marlow try line yet again but this time the referee could not clearly see the ball being grounded in the shadows of the floodlights and awarded a five-metre scrum.

And there was to be no way through for Aylesbury with Marlow doggedly defending their try line until the final whistle to grind out a draw.

This result sees Aylesbury slip back into second place in the league table, just one point behind new leaders Reading Abbey who will be visiting Ostler’s Field this Saturday for another top of the table clash.